By Sarah Donoghue

We here at and The SMEDIAs 2024 are pleased to announce that The European Commission will be working with us to sponsor a category in this year’s awards.    

The European Commission is one of the most important institutions in the European Union. It proposes legislation, implements decisions, upholds the EU treaties, and manages some of the business of the EU. The government of each EU country elects one representative from each country to sit on the Commission. The Commission is independent of national governments and each commissioner represents the EU as a whole, not their own country. 

The EU is intertwined with our lives more than some of us may know. We all hear about EU laws and legislation and think it won’t impact us that much – and sometimes it doesn’t. But, as students, the EU does a lot for us. From research grants to Erasmus, I’m going to break down everything the EU does for us.  

Erasmus: Erasmus is a student exchange programme where students can study in other countries for a year or just one semester. If the country is inside the EU, you get a grant to help pay for living expenses over there. It was launched in 1987, but the European Commission had been testing out pilot student exchanges for 6 years. The Commission officially reposed the programme in 1986, and by June 1987 it was passed into law. To this day, thousands of students study abroad every year thanks to Erasmus. 

Erasmus Plus: In 2014, the EU launched Erasmus+. At the time the EU had multiple different education schemes and grants available. They were all under different names but to make it easier they combined them all into one programme, Erasmus+. The programme consisted of various initiatives aimed at supporting education, training, youth, and sports. The programme is the combination of 7 different initiatives which were all aimed to make education more accessible as well as increase mobility between universities and students across Europe and the world. So what does Erasmus+ include: 

  1. More exchange opportunities: Original Erasmus only included students in third-level education, but Erasmus+ has a wider range of opportunities. Erasmus+ gives study abroad opportunities for people in vocational training, secondary school, and adult education as well as University students 
  1. Supporting sports: Erasmus+ gives training abroad options for sports staff and coaches. It also gives grants and funding for a variety of sports activities, like not-for-profit European sports events and funding towards sports facilities. 
  1. Youth projects: Erasmus+ gives copious amounts of funding and opportunities to get youth involved in politics, diversity, and to give opportunities to disadvantaged young people. 

Research Funding: The EU funds scientific and academic research all across the EU. This is particularly helpful to master’s and PhD students, but Bachelor’s degree students can still benefit from it. The amount of funding programmes they have is innumerable, whatever you’re studying, they will have it. If you fancy yourself a writer, there are lots of grants going to fund journalism that reports on the EU. 

EURAXESS: This will help you with scholarships, grants, and financial support. The EURAXESS website shares information about funding schemes across Europe for research posts, fellowships and doctoral studies. Instead of having you search all across the internet, usually on very difficult websites to navigate, it has all the information you need all in one place. There is also a website called which has country profiles which you can go into and look at the supports for any country you wish to study in. It also has other helpful information including resources on accommodation and helpful tips for your applications.  

DiscoverEU Travel Pass: If you are 18, you are eligible to apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity. DiscoverEU is a scheme set up by the EU to target the youth and get them travelling around Europe. If your application is successful you will receive a free travel pass (mostly a rail pass) to allow you to travel around the EU for a summer. You can bring 4 friends along with you too. The aim is to get young people to learn about the cultural diversity in Europe and discover the culture and history of the continent. You also receive a DiscoverEU European Youth Card which could get you loads of discounts on cultural visits, learning activities, sports, local transportation, accommodation, and food.  

There are four different routes you can take. There is the Green Route which is the most sustainable way to travel Europe. It takes you to nature reserves as well as cities where environmental projects are taking place. The Culture Route has 11 different sub-routes that celebrate different aspects of culture including Design, History, Music, Architecture, Literature, Fashion, Fine Art, Theatre, Cinema, Folk Art, and Food. The Digital Route is a map of digitally savvy European cities, all of which are leading the way by using digital technologies in their buildings, streets, and environments. And finally the New European Bauhaus (NEB) route. NEB is a plan for the future of Europe that combines sustainability, inclusion, and aesthetics. The NEB Route celebrates the places that are adapting.  

Sponsored by The European Commission